I don’t know about you but I am fed up with quizzes.
Everyone and their mother – literally – have been creating online quizzes to pass the time during this unfortunate pandemic. This seems rather sensible; quizzes are easy enough to set up and you only need to video call your loved ones using your chosen app. However, there are interesting options out there. There are countless games that you can easily play remotely with your friends and family – and better yet, there are plenty that are free.
Don’t worry if you aren’t the most tech savvy person out there; these games are all very easy to set up, and we’ll tell you everything you need to know. Before you get started, we’d recommend you use Discord as your choice of voice/video chat. It can be used on a phone or PC, and it’s set up well for you to be able to share your playing screen with others if the game needs this.
It’s easy to set up – just download the app on your phone or PC or visit the website. Once you’re in there, click to create a server. It will then give you a link which you can send to your friends and family. They’ll simply need to click that link and it’ll take them to the right place. Once everyone’s in, click on the ‘General’ voice channel, and you can talk to each other, or enable screen sharing or video chat. That same server will exist forever, so if you all want to get together again, simply head back to Discord.
Now you’ve got the right tools to remotely play with friends and family, let’s get onto games you can play together. Without further ado, here are nine of the best free games you can play remotely.
1Board Game Arena
Board Game Arena is an online server that hosts a great selection of classic games such as Yahtzee, backgammon and chess. It also boasts a selection of very well known expensive board games such as Saboteur or Through the Ages, all of which are free to play online with friends. All you need to do is create an account and add your friends before hosting a table in which you are presented with an online, in-browser version of that game.
What’s even better is that every game available on Board Game Arena has full manuals and even video tutorials on how to play. You can sign up for a premium service to access more games such as Carcassonne or 7 Wonders, but there’s plenty available for free..
Codenames is a brilliant game that requires two teams of at least two to play. You simply create a room and tell others to use the same phrase or link to join. To play Codenames, each team will need at least one ‘spymaster’ and one guesser. Everyone will see a grid of 25 random words but each team’s spymaster will see the secret colours of each word.
The aim of the game is for the guesser to select all of their team’s colour words before the other team without selecting the black shaded word. If you select the black shaded word then your team loses. You take it in turns, with each spymaster saying a single worded clue followed by the number that tells you how many words that clue is related to. An example may be “fruit 2” that corresponds to the words banana and apple. The guesser can guess up to the chosen number of cards to select.
3Settlers of Catan
Settlers of Catan is the gateway drug into proper board game geekdom. It’s been around since 1995 yet still as feels fresh, fast paced and fascinating as it did over two decades ago. Settlers of Catan tasks you with getting the best score by creating the most settlements, roads and biggest armies, all of which is achieved by simple dice rolls. Despite this simple nature the game gets explosively competitive and simple decisions can turn the tide.
Luckily for us this gem is available to play online, as Settlers of Catan has its own dedicated app that can be played on your phone or in your browser. It’s also free to play on Steam, though there are purchasable expansions. This makes it extremely easy to play this beloved board game with your regular party while sitting in your underwear at home. Simply add each other as friends in the app, and away you go.
4Categories with Friends
Categories With Friends is a great party game made easier online. You’re given a list of random categories and a random letter. You have a time limit in which to fill in these categories with as many answers beginning with that letter. For example, you may have ‘Superheroes’ and the letter ‘S’, a simple answer would be ‘Spiderman’. It’s easy in principle, but soon gets difficult – especially when you only score a point if your answer is unique. The aim, then, is to search your frantic brain for the least obvious choice (while still being correct).
This online version sets up a whole game consisting of three rounds and works a treat. One person sets up a game, then shares the link with friends, who just need to select a nickname. Once you are all in, the game begins. When the answers are revealed, players can debate on answers and choose whether or not they are acceptable. This website allows players to choose to cast a vote on controversial answers, a brilliant addition to something so simple.
Quack Stanley is a silly game where one player takes up the role of a buyer and everyone else tries to pitch their product to them. The buyer is given a role which varies from anything to ‘astronaut’ to ‘kindergartner’ and the rest must pitch their products as ‘sellers’, using words from a given list. The product will end up being weird and wacky, like a ‘velcro jumper’ pitched to the astronaut to combat zero gravity. Based on the pitches, the buyer picks the best product and that [layer wins the round and a new buyer is chosen.
Its a basic idea that can get hilariously stupid as your six cards make you pitch ridiculous concepts to fit your client. It’s easy to play online as you simply set up a room and send your friends the room code until they are all in.
6Town of Salem
Town of Salem is a game of intrigue and deception. Similar to the famous game of Werewolf, there are several factions residing in the game’s town: the good townsfolk, the neutrals, the mafia and a Serial Killer (at least in the standard mode). No one, bar the mafia – who are familiar with each other – know who is who and must use their diplomacy and nightly abilities to work out who everyone is while the other factions kill the rest.
It’s a great game but can take a while to get used to – not that time is an issue at the minute. Town of Salem is worth the effort, especially considering it is free to play in your browser. There’s also a Steam version which costs £3.99.
Sketchful.io is essentially Pictionary that can be played online with others. And who doesn’t love Pictionary? Heck, even the cavemen gave it a go! The ability humans have to accidentally make a harmless puppy look like a penis means laughs are guaranteed when people play these artistically challenging games together.
It’s presented in a clean simple client that you can access from your internet browser. Simply create a room and send the link to others. It has stylus integration if you’re playing on a tablet, plenty of tools and brush sizes and the public rooms are well moderated. It’s an easy must-play for all the family.
Scrabble Go! is, as the name may suggest, a digital version of the ever-popular word building game. You may have thought that your dose of tile spilling time would be dead and buried in the age of lockdowns and social distancing, but luckily for us, where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Scrabble Go! is a nice little app available on Android or iOS that allows you and your loved ones to play together. In fact, this may be the best way to play the game even once lockdown has ended as no longer can you debate over the acceptance of words; the game will simply tell you if your play is legal or not. It’s a lot of fun, and easy to play. Simply download the app, and have your friends do the same.
Secret Hitler is a great board game about deceit, strategic policy and everyone’s least favourite Chancellor – no, not George Osborne. In this game you must either prevent Hitler’s rise to power if you are a liberal or support him if you are a secret fascist. There is a lot more to it than meets the eye, but Secret Hitler isn’t too complicated for the less tactically-minded. While it is simple in its mechanics, the hilarity and great artwork makes the game more than worth your time.
Due to the game being registered under copyright laws I don’t fully understand, this brilliant game is fully available to play online. You can play with others, compete on global leaderboards or just enjoy a private friendly game of fascism with your loved ones. Simply create an account and the rest is easy.